What started as a primitive, agricultural fair in the mid 19th Century, has become one of the biggest, most exciting festivals in the entire US. This is your place to combine agriculture, adventure, and camping all in one trip. Want to have the kids try a new food that even you have never encountered? The Ohio State Fair has that, too.
Aside from displaying the latest advancements in the field of agriculture, the Ohio State Fair also features dynamic musical acts, exciting sporting competitions, interactive educational displays, a fine arts show, a petting zoo with a plethora of exotic animals, helicopter rides, kids’ entertainment shows, and much more. Past performers have included Reba McEntire, Jeff Dunham, and The Commodores, so you are sure to find something to suit your interests.
All of this takes place in Columbus, Ohio, typically during the end of July and the beginning of August. Aside from offering a variety of activities and shows, the Ohio State Fair also features spacious campgrounds, which is undoubtedly great news for anyone wishing to travel to this festival in an RV.
As you start planning your 12-day adventure at the Ohio State Fair, make sure to check all the available options before the ticket sales commence. Of course, keep in mind that purchasing fair tickets in advance may come with a discount, but camping reservations are only available a few weeks before the fair each year. Local retailers often offer special discounts for fair entrance tickets. If you desire a shorter stay, be sure to review the schedule and pick days that include your favorite activities and performances.
Available to you will be music concert tickets, discount group tickets, ride tickets, Ride-All-Day vouchers, and general admission tickets. In the past, guests have purchased tickets online via Ticketmaster, or upon arrival. Once you finish your online purchase, you can expect your ticket to be delivered via mail and with a standard mail delivery fee. For children under the age of 5, the tickets are often free for many events.
The Ohio State Fair takes place at the Columbus Fairgrounds, and that means a three-hour drive from Indianapolis, Indiana (from the west) or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (from the east) via I-70. If you are coming from the north or south, you may travel on I-71 to reach the Ohio Expo Center and fairgrounds. The campground gate will be visible as you approach. Festival staff will direct you to your campsite at that time.
As a fair-goer, you will have a number of parking options at your disposal. Guests can typically find parking on or near 17th Avenue, Hudson Street, or Silver Drive.
There is a minor parking fee for regular vehicles, and you can also take the complimentary shuttles to and from the main entrance gate and your vehicle. In addition to standard parking, there is an ADA accessible parking option.
As for your RV, you will have to leave it at the nearby campground once it is parked. Remember to review the Ohio State Fair website regarding RV parking regulations.
In case you forget the location of your car, the fair offers a Parking Pin to help you make it back to your vehicle when you've had your fill of fried dough and tractor pulls.
When it comes to public transportation, guests can find a COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) bus stop near the Ohio Gate on 11th Avenue. In addition, you can always search online for a variety of taxi services. So no need to worry about getting to the Columbus area or the fairgrounds, since you have multiple options.
For onsite camping, reservations are required for all campers. A single person can make no more than two campsite reservations, which can be made only by phone or online after a certain date each year. A flat-rate for the entirety of the fair is not offered, but the nightly rate is usually reasonable for RV camping at the Ohio State Fair.
Onsite camping prohibits the use of tents, as the fair strictly offers RV camping. Additionally, campers will be allowed to grill using charcoal, but guests will not be permitted to make bonfires, fire pits, etc. Water sprinklers, pools, drones, hoverboards, and Segways are not permitted. If you wish to utilize a personal golf cart or similar motorized device, make sure you have the appropriate license and insurance.
If spaces fill up at the Ohio State Fair campground, space may be available a few miles northeast of the main campgrounds. Several Columbus RV accommodations are situated within thirty to sixty minutes. Nearby parks offer nightly rates, in addition to a variety of hookups that will make your stay pleasant and stress-free.
Sunbury / Columbus North KOA sits just 30 miles northeast of the fairground near I-71 and is a great place to stop and settle into the camp setting. Buckeye Lake / Columbus East KOA is about the same distance away but is a little more directly east of Columbus.
When it comes to traveling around the main campground itself, you can opt to go on foot, ride a bike (during stated morning hours), take the onsite shuttle (during listed hours daily), or rent a variety of vehicles. These may include electric scooters, wheelchairs, wagons, single strollers, double strollers, and storage cubicles.
The Ohio State Fair takes place during the peak of summer, so your best choice of attire would be a mixture of lightweight clothes. These should include your favorite t-shirts, comfortable footwear, some shades, a hat,etc. However, keep in mind that summer is also known for heavy rain showers, so pack a breathable raincoat and a pair of boots, just in case.
In addition to your chosen clothing, a sleeping bag, extra blanket, and pillow, are sure to make your nights even cozier. To make your stay even more enjoyable, pack your cell phone or camera, as well as a small backpack, purse, stroller, cooler, kid supplies, etc. You can bring food, non-alcoholic beverages, and a charcoal grill, but no glass containers.
Despite hosting a large number of indoor activities, the Ohio State Fair is mostly an outdoor event. Therefore, don’t forget to pack various items to protect yourself from the sun's rays and evening mosquitos. These should include a first-aid kit, bug spray, an adequate sunscreen, etc. Also, remember to review and follow festival guidelines, and don't hesitate to inform the event’s medical staff in advance, if you have any specific medical needs.
Campers may want to bring groceries and cooking supplies prior to entering the campground. If you forget to bring something, you will likely need to leave the fairgrounds to purchase items, so make sure you have packed everything before heading out towards the fairgrounds. Grilling is permitted, but open flame fires are not. It is always best to check tank levels before arriving at your campsite.
If you don’t feel like making your food, rest assured knowing that there are over 200 food vendors present at the fair, offering a wide range of different foods, from fresh fruits and vegetables to deep-fried delicacies. Furthermore, there are a couple of fast-food restaurants that you can find within walking distance from the fairgrounds.
The Ohio State Fair is usually home to more than 300 commercial exhibitors, which makes it the perfect location for all your shopping adventures. Aside from purchasing all kinds of food and drinks, you can also find a wide range of cleaning supplies, antiques, collectibles, kitchen wares, tech gadgets, home improvement equipment, and much more. Guests can conduct purchases via a card or with cash, but vendors do retain the option to choose one or the other.
Before entering the main fairgrounds, guests will be subjected to a detailed inspection, using a metal detector. With this in mind, make sure you are not carrying any prohibited items. Since safety is the number one priority, you will not be allowed to carry items that can be used as weapons, illegal substances, or alcoholic beverages. When it comes to the re-entry option, you will be allowed to do that with a hand stamp or wristband.
Since this event takes place during the summer, you can expect hot days and light summer breezes. But, don’t be surprised if there are short bursts of heavy rain showers. In case of adverse or hazardous weather conditions, all guests will be notified and may be instructed to leave the fair premises in a safe and orderly manner or move to a designated area. The event’s security staff offers immediate assistance to anyone in need at any time during the fair.
The Ohio State Fair features two air-conditioned, modern family care stations, where parents can take care of their children. Additionally, there is also a medical station, which offers medical assistance during specified hours. If it any point during the festival, you are feeling unwell, head over to those designated locations for assistance. Pharmacy and additional medical services are available in multiple locations throughout Columbus and Ohio.